Blocked Trail

With our second significant snow of the week, and more predicted for the weekend, this intrepid cyclist is rapidly resigning himself to a long period of indoor training.  I don’t love it, because I know well from experience that I cannot maintain the same level of conditioning on the mag trainer and e-bike that I do when I ride several times a week.

This last snowfall was a “warm” snow, heavy and sticky, but fortunately only 4” or so deep, and inclined to begin melting immediately on paved surfaces.  So it is less good for sledding, better for snowmen, and beautiful for photography, covering every limb as it did in a thick coat of flakes that weren’t going to blow away with the first gust of wind.  After I cleared the driveway and front walk (most of the sidewalk had melted to the concrete by itself) I decided to visit the W&OD Bike Trail, even if I couldn’t ride on it.  So I headed off for the nearby right-of-way, just down the street, around the corner, and up the next block.

Bamboo leaves

Bamboo leaves

I’d taken some “picturesque” snow shots around the house earlier in the morning, but on the way I got some more, including one showing how most citizens obey the law by shoveling their walks, but Fairfax County, the second-richest county in the nation based on median household income, does not plow the public streets.  We last saw a snowplow in our neighborhood in the December blizzard, and our byways have remained virginal in the last two storms, totaling 10”.  At least if they’d plow locally I could ride in the subdivision, where I have fashioned a couple of 20-mile routes, when the streets melt off.

When I reached the right-of-way my walk became a true Zen experience, because the path to the trail was heavily blocked by bent-over bamboo.  Around here the stuff grows like a weed, is hard to contain, and once gone wild nearly impossible to eradicate.  The thicket beside the right-of-way path is a recurring nuisance to trail access.  Today, though, it was rather beautiful in its graceful curves and elegant leaf patterns.  It suggested to me how useless frustration is, how unexpectedly beautiful nature can be in its autonomous, alien ways, and even how I can adjust to embrace that beauty.  I took some shots that mimicked Japanese brush paintings, wove my way under and around the barriers, and came to the STOP sign at the trail junction, another vivid symbol red against the white and dark green palette of the snowscape.  The views east and west on the trail reinforced the tenacity of winter—bleak and white, no pavement to be seen.  I notice the tread of a fat, knobby mountain bike tire, probably ridden by one of those in the local community who depend on bikes for their basic transportation in all weather.  Mostly there were footprints and dog prints, maybe a cross-country ski or two.

I returned with a calmness reflecting my sense of the beauty to be found in the rhythms of bamboo leaves, arching branches, and seasonal weather patterns.  It all comes together; I can be one with this; I can STOP and ride inside.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010

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